Thursday, May 30, 2013

Where was Christ from 12 to 30 years of age? (Part 1)

Many people throughout the centuries and up until today—some unknowingly due to ignorance and naivety,
others deliberately due to cunning and evil intentions—claim that the Holy Gospels supposedly preserve secretive silence on the subject of Christ's life between the ages of twelve (when He appeared in the Temple) and the age of thirty (when He began to preach publicly).

This allegation, of course, is totally false and unsupported. Most people make this assertion with ill intentions, hoping through such slander to somehow support and prove that Jesus Christ is not God. Unfortunately, their impetus and hidden motive is to disprove and reject the miraculous power of Christ's divinity, and thereafter to proclaim that Jesus worked His miracles aided by the knowledge and skill He supposedly acquired in India!

If, however, such people had ever read the New Testament carefully, they would realize that Jesus Christ
lived within the borders of Israel throughout His entire life, and had no need to obtain human knowledge
from others.

Let us begin by examining the words of St. Luke the Evangelist, who describes Christ at the age of twelve: “And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast...And after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers
...And His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You done this to us? Look. Your father and I have sought You anxiously.’ And He said to them, ‘Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that it is necessary for
me to be in My Father’s dwellings?’...And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and submitted Himselfto them” (Lk. 2:41-52)

They who claim that the Gospels henceforth ceasedetailing Christ’s life speculate that He must have left His homeland and travelled to eastern regions where He found medicine men and shamans who taught Him how to perform sorcery and exorcisms, and then returned to His country eighteen years later with newly acquired knowledge and skills. Every earnest reader, however,will realize from the above text that Christ was not in need of travelling to India in order to acquire literacy and magical powers. Fora twelve-year old child who
has the ability and wisdom to converse with teachers in such a way as to “astonish all the listeners on account of His understanding and answers” is not a common child, but a Divine Child and Son of God. Furthermore, when responding to His mother, “Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s dwellings?” Christ refers to the Temple as the home of His Father, intending with these words to reveal to everyone who was present that He is the true Son of God. Unfortunately, they “did not understand” what He said concerning His relationship with God the Father and the Temple, just as all who seek to defame Him throughout the centuries fail to understand.

Χωρίς το Θεό όλα είναι απελπισία… (Άγιος Νικόλαος Επίσκοπος Αχρίδος ο Βελιμίροβιτς)

Η σφραγίδα της απελπισίας είναι η αυτοκτονία. Αναρωτιέστε, γιατί υπάρχει τόση απελπισία και γιατί υπάρχουν τόσοι απελπισμένοι στην εποχή μας; Από το άδειασμα του μυαλού και την ερημιά της καρδιάς. Ο νους δε σκέφτεται το Θεό και η καρδιά δεν αγαπάει το Θεό. Όλος ο κόσμος δεν μπορεί να γεμίσει το ανθρώπινο μυαλό,αυτό μπορεί μόνο ο Θεός να το κάνει. Χωρίς το Θεό ο νους είναι πάντα άδειος και όλες οι γνώσεις που μπαίνουν στο μυαλό πέφτουν στην άβυσσο. Η αγάπη όλου του κόσμου δεν μπορεί να γεμίσει την καρδιά του ανθρώπου, επειδή η καρδιά νιώθει πως η κοσμική αγάπη αλλάζει και είναι σαν την παλίρροια και την άμπωτη της θάλασσας. Αδερφοί μου, και το μυαλό και η καρδιά μας ανήκουν στο Θεό και μόνο ο Θεός μπορεί να τα γεμίσει με τη δύναμή Του: Να το γεμίσει με τη δική Του χαρούμενη σοφία, με την πίστη και την αγάπη.

—Χωρίς το Θεό όλα είναι αμάθεια.

—Χωρίς το Θεό όλα είναι στεναχώρια.

—Χωρίς το Θεό όλα είναι απελπισία…

Patron Saints - June

Here are some common Patron Saints for the month of June (and again, this is by no means a comprehensive list).
Menaion Icon of the Saints and Feasts of the Month of June (icon taken from Holy Transfiguration Monastery: June
1 – St. Justin the Philosopher – for help in studies

1 – St. Agapit the Righteous Unmercensry of the Kiev Caves – for physicians

5 – Sts. Boniface and Aglais – for help against drinking and other passions

7 – St. Panagis Basias - the protector of students, protector against witchcraft, depressing thoughts and mental diseases and disorders
8 – St. Theodore the Great-Martyr, the Commander - the protector against eczema and gynecological problems, protector of children
9 - Five Holy [Κανονικαί?] Virgins: Sts. Thekla, Mariam, Mary, Martha and Enatha – protectors of virginity
10 – Sts. Theophanes and Pansemni the Righteous - protectors of a pure life
11 – St. Luke the Physician, Archbishop of Crimea - protector against cardiovascular and ocular diseases and illnesses, protector against cancer and all illnesses, patron of surgeons and all physicians, protector of children, protector of those unfairly imprisoned
12 – Sts. Onouphrios the Righteous and Peter of Mount Athos – for captives and court cases

14 – Righteous Elisha the Prophet – protector of olive-growers [ελαιοπαραγωγών?]
20 – St. Nahum of Ochrid – for mental disorders

21 – St. Julian the Martyr – for meeting a difficult situation

21 – St. Nikitas the Neomartyr of Nisyros - helps in times of weak faith
21 – St. Aphrodisios the Martyr - protector against venereal diseases
23 – St. Artemios of Verkola – for hernias and intestinal disorders

25 – Sts. Peter and Febronia of Muron – for marital difficulties and newlyweds

27 – St. Sampson the Innkeeper, the Unmercenary – protector of innkeepers, protectors against disease in general
28 - Sts. Cyrus and John the Anargyroi (Unmercenaries) [the transfer of their relics] - protectors against all sickness and soul-corrupting passions, and for help in meeting a difficult situation
29 – St. Peter the Apostle – protector against stones [λιθιάσεων?]
30 – The Twelve Holy Apostles - protectors of fishermen

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Παράδειγμα της υπακοής- ( Γεροντας Πορφύριος )

Ένα από τα πολλά χαρίσματα που κοσμούσαν τον χαρακτήρα του Πατρός Πορφυρίου, ήταν η υπακοή.

Κάποια μέρα αντί να μου μιλήσει ευθέως για την αξία της υπακοής που εγώ κάθε άλλο, παρά τα είχα…καλά μαζί της άρχισε να μου λεει τα εξής:

Όταν ακόμη ήμουν μοναχός και είχα σχεδόν την ηλικία σου πληροφορήθηκα ότι σε ένα κελί ζούσε ένας παράξενος γέροντας. Όποιος υποτακτικός πήγαινε να τον υπηρετήσει δεν άντεχε την γκρίνια του και την ιδιοτροπία του και μέσα σε 2-3 μέρες τον εγκατέλειπε και έφευγε. Αυτό συνέβαινε για πολύ καιρό. Στο τέλος δεν εδέχετο κανείς να πάει να τον υπηρετήσει. Τότε αποφάσισα να πάω εγώ. Έκανα την πρόθεση μου γνωστή στους άλλους μοναχούς και εκείνοι προσπάθησαν να με εμποδίσουν. Μην τολμήσεις, μου είπαν, γιατί θα αποτύχεις και θα απογοητευτείς και είσαι πολύ νέος και δεν κάνει να αρχίσεις την μοναχική σου ζωή με μια τόση κακή εμπειρία. Εδώ προσπάθησαν τόσοι και τόσοι μοναχοί με υπομονή πρωτόγνωρη και καλοσύνη πρωτοφανή και απέτυχαν και θα κατορθώσεις εσύ να συνεργαστείς με τον γεροπαράξενο; Μη προσπαθείς. Άδικα θα υποβληθείς σε μια ταλαιπωρία που δεν θα διαφέρει σε τίποτα από τις δικές μας αφού το αποτέλεσμα της θα είναι αρνητικό. Μάταια, όμως προσπάθησαν να με πείσουν. Εγώ, τους είπα, θα πάω και ας αποτύχω.

Πράγματι! Χωρίς να χάσω καιρό ξεκίνησα για το κελλί, που έμενε ο Γέροντας. Χτύπησα την πόρτα και μου είπε να περάσω. Τον καλημέρισα και συγχρόνως υποκλίνομαι. Την ευχή σας γέροντα.

- Τι θέλεις εσύ εδώ;

- Να, έμαθα, ότι είσαι μόνος σου και ανήμπορος και ήλθα να σε υπηρετήσω..

- Να πας από εκεί που ήρθες! Φύγε γρήγορα.

- Λέγοντας αυτά μου έδειξε το παράθυρο. Να φύγω δηλαδή από το παράθυρο και όχι από την πόρτα. Και εγώ όπως πάντα έκανα άκρα υπακοή! Βγήκα από το παράθυρο! Αυτό θα πει υπακοή!

Γεγονός πάντως είναι, ότι ο παππούλης επέμενε πολύ στο θέμα της υπακοής. Και την θεωρούσε καθήκον και υποχρέωση συνάμα κάθε πνευματικού παιδιού.

Ο ίδιος θέλοντας να δείξει το μέγεθος της σημασίας που είχε για εκείνον η υπακοή αναφέρει στην Επιστολή-Διαθήκη του, που άφησε σε όλους εμάς, τα εξής:

«…έφυγα από τους γονείς μου κρυφά και ήλθα στα Καυσοκαλύβια του Αγίου Όρους και υποτάχτηκα σε δυο γεροντάδες αυταδέλφους, Παντελεήμονα και Ιωαννίκιο. Μου έτυχε να είναι πολύ ευσεβείς και ενάρετοι και τους αγάπησα πάρα πολύ και γι’ αυτό, με την ευχή τους, τους έκανα ά κ ρ α υ π α κ ο ή. Αυτό με βοήθησε πάρα πολύ, αισθάνθηκα και μεγάλη αγάπη και προς τον Θεό και πέρασα και πάρα πολύ καλά».

Γεροντας Πορφύριος

The Faithful Husband That Would Not Abandon His Unfaithful Wife

I will tell you of another characteristic of a proper spouse, which is extremely difficult to find in our day. But we did encounter one such person. He was in every way a perfect character, a Christian, and completely social. He married late, around thirty years old, not because he was averse to marriage, but because he thought that was how it should be. So he said his prayers with faith, and found himself a young girl and married her. The girl was young, ten years younger than him. Soon after he married her, she began her mischief. He pretended not to notice; he regarded her as his daughter and himself as her father. However, they had important business interests overseas and they had to go there, even if only temporarily. So he took her and they went abroad. When they arrived, she became very obstinate, and would say to herself: "He did this on purpose, to estrange me from my environment. I will desert him." So she abandoned and left him. She came back to Greece, and where do you think she went? To one of those "casino" places, and began to live the life of a free woman - one who is paid.

The husband however, from the day that she left him, never stopped praying with tears and insisting - in fact exhorting God: "All Good One, I will not retreat, I will not leave You alone; You were the One who gave me my wife. 'By the Lord is a man and woman harmonized' (according to the Bible). I want my wife. If the young girl has been deceived, must she be lost? Why did You come down to earth? Didn't You come to find the lost ones, to heal the sick, to resurrect the dead? I will not retreat. I will not let You rest. I want my wife; bring her back to me." He wept for two whole years.

His prayer was eventually heard and the young woman came to her senses. "Oh my," she confessed, "God will have to create another Hell, because this one is too small for me!"

So she sat down and wrote him a letter, saying: "I dare not address your name; I have no such right. If I return, will you accept me as your servant?"

He replied: "My love, why did you mention that word and hurt my feelings? Wasn't it me who sent you on a vacation and I was longing for my love to return to my open arms?"

So, he went and waited for her at the airport, as they had arranged. When she arrived, she fell down and began to beat herself and cry. He took her in his arms.

"My love, why are you like this and hurt my feelings? I was longing to see you again. Let's go home now; we never parted - I was always with you."

And this young girl proved herself to be a faithful wife from then on.

And that is the stance that a man - a husband - should take.

Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi

Darwinian and Theistic Evolution

The nonsense we hear in schools these days about Darwin's theory and the rest, even the teachers themselves do not believe what they are teaching. Instead they proceed because they want to pollute the minds of our youth and take them away from the Church.

This is what someone told me: "Let's say the soil contained various substances and micro-organisms, and God took these and created man..."

"You mean," I replied, "that if those elements did not exist in the soil, God would not have been able to create man? It would have been really difficult for Him?"

"Well, let's say," he continued, "that He took some things from the ape and perfected them. Couldn't that be how it happened?"

"Are you trying to say," I answered, "that God cannot create a perfect creature, that he cannot create a human being, even after dedicating a whole day to it? What should He have done? Go get spare parts? Why don't you read the prophecy of Job [1] from the Scripture readings of Holy Thursday? Science does not accept all the claims about our kinship with apes. How long has it been since man went to the moon? In all these years, have apes evolved enough to build a bicycle or at least a skateboard? Have you ever seen an ape on a skateboard? Of course you can teach him to do that, but that's not the same thing."

But the man would not give up. He would insist, "Let's assume this," or "let's say that...."

"Well, let's just say that you will not assume a thing," I finally told him. "This way you'll find the certainty you want."

The theory of evolution was being taught by a professor I knew at the University. Once, I said to him: "In time and with proper care a green bean plant will become a better green bean plant, the eggplant a better eggplant. If you feed and take care of an ape, he will become a better ape, but he will not turn into a human being."

And then there's this thing to think about. Christ was born of a human being, the Panagia. Are we to believe that His ancestors were apes? What blasphemy! And those who support this theory don't realize that they are blaspheming. They throw a stone and do not check to see how many heads they have cracked. All you will hear from them is: "Mine went further than the other fellow's." That's what they are all about these days; they marvel at who will throw a stone the farthest. But they care nothing about those who are passing by and the many heads their stones will crack.

Q: Elder, some people think these theories will help bring Marxists to the Church.

A: Well, perhaps a few Marxists might come to the Church at first. But then they will want to organize as a party and start giving dictates to others: "Now you must go to church; now you may not. Now do this, now do that." They will have rules for everything. And in the end, they will start telling people: "Who told you that there is a God? There is no God! The priests are all making it up to deceive you." This is what will happen; the Marxists will use these good willing folks to achieve their goal. Marxists with a good will and disposition will come back to the Church, repent, and go to confession. But those who have no good disposition, they will never change.

1. Job 38:14 - "Or perhaps it was you who took dust from the earth, formed clay, made it into a living being with a mouth and the ability to speak, and placed him on earth."

Elder Paisios

Sin, Hell and Repentance - St. Issac the Syrian

"As for me I say that those who are tormented in hell are tormented by the invasion of love. What is there more bitter and violent than the pains of love? Those who feel they have sinned against love bear in themselves a damnation much heavier than the most dreaded punishments. The suffering with which sinning against love afflicts the heart is more keenly felt than any other torment. It is absurd to assume that the sinners in hell are deprived of God's love. Love is offered impartially. But by its very power it acts in two ways. It torments sinners, as happens here on earth when we are tormented by the presence of a friend to whom we have been unfaithful. And it gives joy to those who have been faithful. That is what the torment of hell is in my opinion: remorse. But love inebriates the souls of the sons and daughters of heaven by its delectability.

"If zeal had been appropriate for putting humanity right, why did God the Word clothe himself in the body, using gentleness and humility in order to bring the world back to his Father?

"Sin is the fruit of free will. There was a time when sin did not exist, and there will be a time when it will not exist.

"God's recompense to sinners is that, instead of a just recompense, God rewards them with resurrection.

"O wonder! The Creator clothed in a human being enters the house of tax collectors and prostitutes. Thus the entire universe, through the beauty of the sight of him, was drawn by his love to the single confession of God, the Lord of all.

“Will God, if I ask, forgive me these things by which I am pained and by whose memory I am tormented, things by which, though I abhor them, I go on backsliding? Yet after they have taken place the pain they give me is even greater than that of a scorpion's sting. Though I abhor them, I am still in the middle of them, and when I repent of them with suffering I wretchedly return to them again.”

"This is how many God-fearing people think, people who foster virtue and are pricked with the suffering of compunction, who mourn over their sin; yet human prosperity compels them to bear with the backsliding which results from it. They live between sin and repentance all the time. Let us not be in doubt, O fellow humanity, concerning the hope of our salvation, seeing that the One who bore sufferings for our sakes is very concerned about our salvation; God's mercifulness is far more extensive than we can conceive, God's grace is greater than what we ask for.

"Repentance is given us as grace after grace, for repentance is a second regeneration by God. That of which we have received an earnest by baptism, we receive as a gift by means of repentance. Repentance is the door of mercy, opened to those who seek it. By this door we enter into the mercy of God, and apart from this entrance we shall not find mercy.

"Blessed is God who uses corporeal objects continually to draw us close in a symbolic way to a knowledge of God's invisible nature. O name of Jesus, key to all gifts, open up for me the great door to your treasure-house, that I may enter and praise you with the praise that comes from the heart."

--St. Issac the Syrian

Νά παρακαλάτε νά γίνω καλός, όχι νά γίνω καλά ( Αγιος Πορφύριος )

Mια πνευματική κόρη του Γέροντος Πορφυρίου, όταν επρόκειτο νά κάνει (ό Γέρων Πορφύριος) εγχείριση καταρράκτη στο μάτι του, έπαιρνε κι άλλες κοπέλες άπ' έδώ και πήγαιναν στο δάσος κι έκλαιαν, παρακαλώντας το Θεό νά κάνει τό Γέροντα καλά.
Τή φωνάζει μιά ήμερα ό Γέροντας: «Έλα έσύ έδώ. Γιατί παίρνεις και τις άλλες και πάτε και κλαίτε μέσα στο δάσος;». «Διότι, Γέροντα», τοϋ απάντησε, «θέλουμε νά γίνετε καλά». Και ξέρετε τί της είπε τότε; Μου τό είπε ή ίδια. Της είπε έπί λέξει: «Νά παρακαλάτε νά γίνω καλός, όχι νά γίνω καλά».
Ό πατήρ 'Ανδρέας, ό όποιος έχει κοιμηθεί τώρα, προτού γίνει μοναχός στο "Αγιον Όρος, ήταν ιατρός δερματολόγος. Μετά, όταν ήρθε έδώ ώς ιερέας στον "Αγιο Γεώργιο στά Νέα Παλάτια Ώρωποϋ, μιά ήμερα ζήτησε άπό τό Γέροντα Πορφύριο τήν άδεια νά δεί, ώς δερματολόγος πού ήταν, τό χέρι του, διότι ό Γέρων Πορφύριος είχε, μεταξύ άλλων, μιά δερματική πάθηση στο χέρι του καί, κάποια περίοδο, είχε τό δεξί χέρι του τυλιγμένο με γάζες. Τό περιστατικό αυτό, πού σάς λέω, μου τό αφηγήθηκε ό ίδιος ό πατήρ 'Ανδρέας.
Πράγματι, τον άφησε νά τού εξετάσει τό χέρι. Ό πατήρ 'Ανδρέας πήγε τότε, αγόρασε μιά αλοιφή καί τήν πήγε στο Γέροντα. «Νά βάζετε αυτή τήν αλοιφή, Γέροντα», τοϋ είπε, «καί σέ λίγες ήμερες θά γίνει τελείως καλά τό χέρι σας».
Τοϋ λέει τότε ό Γέρων Πορφύριος: «Πάτερ 'Ανδρέα, αυτό τό πράγμα στο χέρι μου ό Θεός έμενα μοϋ τό έδωσε. Καί έρχεσαι τώρα έσύ νά μοϋ τό πάρεις;» Καί δέ δέχθηκε νά πάρει τήν αλοιφή.

Αγιος Πορφύριος

Boredom in Prayer and in Church

Abba Moses asked Abba Sylvanus: "Can a person lay a new foundation every day?" The old man replied: "If you work hard, you can lay a new foundation every moment."

- Sayings of the Desert Fathers

The pathological love of self and of others is an obstacle to our relationship with God.

- Abba Isaiah, Sayings of the Desert Fathers

When the holy Abba Anthony lived in the desert he was beset by boredom, and attacked by many sinful thoughts. He said to God, 'Lord, I want to be saved but these thoughts do not leave me alone; what shall I do in my affliction? How can I be saved?'

A short while afterwards, when he got up to go out, Anthony saw a man like himself sitting at his work, getting up from his work to pray, then sitting down and plaiting a rope, then getting up again to pray. It was an angel of the Lord sent to correct and reassure him: 'Do this and you will be saved.' At these words, Anthony was filled with joy and courage. He did this, and he was saved.

- Sayings of the Desert Fathers

The necessary services which we are obliged to carry out, we must of course accept and carry out, but we must let go of those other purposeless activities and prefer rather to spend our time in prayer, particularly when these activities would lead us into the greed and luxury of money and wealth. For the more one can limit, with the help of God, these worldly activities and remove the material which feeds them, the more will one be able to gather his mind from such anxious wanderings. If again someone, out of weak faith or some other weakness, cannot do this, then, at least, let him understand well the truth and let him try, as much as he can, to censure himself for this weakness and for still remaining in this immature condition. For it is far better to have to give an account to God for omissions rather than for error and pride.

- Abba Mark, Sayings of the Desert Fathers

Unless a man can bring himself to say to his heart that he alone and God are present in this place, he will never find peace and rest of soul.

- Abba Alonios, Sayings of the Desert Fathers

God and the angels grieve over those who are not satisfied with heavenly nourishment.

- St. Makarios of Egypt

No matter where you are, you can set up your sanctuary. Just have pure intentions and neither the place, nor the time will be an obstacle, even without kneeling down, striking your chest or raising your arms to heaven. As long as your mind is fervently concentrated you are totally composed for prayer. God is not troubled by any place. He only requires a clear and fervent mind and a soul desiring prudence.

- St. John Chrysostom

Boredom is the breakdown of the soul, the disorientation of the mind, negligence of ascetic practice, hatred of monasticism, love of worldliness, irreverence toward God, forgetfulness of prayer.

- St. John Klimakos, Ladder of Divine Ascent

This condition brings you anxiety, dislike for the place where you are living, but also for your brothers and for every activity. There is even a dislike for Sacred Scripture, with constant yawning and sleepiness. Moreover, this condition keeps you in a state of hunger and nervousness, wondering when the next meal will come. And when you decide to pick up a book to read a little, you immediately put it down. You begin to scratch yourself and to look out of the windows. Again you begin to read a little, and then you count the number of pages and look at the titles of the chapters. Finally, you give up on the book and go to sleep, and as soon as you have slept a little you find it necessary to get up again. And all of these things you are doing just to pass the time.

- St. Antiochos of Palestine

Loneliness is abolished in God. We are all ‘members of each other’ according to St. Paul. Thus, our sins and our virtues have a bearing upon the others, since, as we have said, we are all members of one body. Accidia [boredom] provides a reason for more fervent prayer, and the difficulties are an opportunity for spiritual maturity and progress.

- Fyodor Dostoyevski, The Brothers Karamazov

They say that church is boring. It is boring because they do not understand the services! You need to study! It is boring because they do not care for it. So they do not see it as their own, but as something foreign to them. They could at least bring flowers or greenery to decorate it, they could take part in caring for the church; then it would not be boring.

- St. Anthony (Potapov) of Optina

We Christians of today do not feel the power of the redemption wrought by our Lord Jesus Christ, and it is as a result that we are so bad, unfeeling, that we look so perfunctorily at sin, and do not understand the Church Services, especially the Divine Liturgy, and find it boring.

- Hieromartyr Arseny (Zhadanovsky)

Forget for at least this space of time the bustle and concerns of everyday life. Be like an angel, filled only with thoughts of God and of serving Him. After all, He is present now, and is blessing you.

- Hieromartyr Seraphim (Zvezdinsky)

Generally speaking, I am bored by the Canons, and especially by the Akathists, and I read them only out of a sense of duty. I make an exception only for the penitential Canons of the Octoechos and the Lenten Triodion. But there are times when my heart is very heavy and sad, and then I recite certain canons — to the Mother of God and to the most Sweet Jesus — as if the words were my own. This means that our “lack of feeling” for the Canons is an accusation against us—it points to an absence in the given person of the religious mood in which these Canons were written.

- Fr. Alexander Elchaninov, Diary of a Russian Priest

In this loneliness, in this desolation of the cities, in this apparent absence of God, man is called to gather his thoughts, to come to his senses, to put aside his many worldly preoccupations and to retire to his place of prayer speechless, naked, a child so that God may speak to him, clothe him, and endow him with spiritual maturity. Then his loneliness will become the divine loneliness of liberation and he will achieve a sense of fullness. Only such radical loneliness leads to a fundamental understanding and experience of God, destroying every hesitation, doubt and torment.

In this sacred loneliness man finds himself face-to-face with his existential poverty and the fear of death which it provokes. Yet, even here, there is the danger that he may choose procrastination as a solution and, for a time, set his panic-stricken self at ease. He may resume running back and forth endlessly, expanding social activities, and seeking a variety of entertainments a program of extreme busyness. Other people, other things, work and extensive involvements may serve as a cover for his spiritual impoverishment for a time. And he may continue wandering aimlessly, driven by circumstances, tormented, flirting with one thing and another, fighting, being torn and finally annihilated.

A life of work without the liberation of communion with God is slavery. The struggle for excessive wealth is an incurable, tormenting disease. Fear of the future can stimulate greed, miserliness, hoarding. And God can be easily forgotten.

- Monk Moses the Athonite, The Community of the Desert and the Loneliness of the City

The Testimony of St. Sergius of Radonezh at the Council of Florence

The Life of our holy monastic father Sergius and accounts of his numerous miracles are to be found in a separate book printed in the royal city of Moscow. In this book the following miracle is recounted.

After the ungodly Council of Florence a multitude of pious hierarchs and priests did not wish to submit to the errors of the Latins and were put to death by the Romans by means of various tortures. Now there was a certain priest from the land of Great Russia who went to the council with Isidore, the Metropolitan of Kiev, who later fell from Orthodoxy. The presbyter’s name was Symeon, and he endured many afflictions and torments for piety’s sake at the hands of the apostate Metropolitan Isidore. When he was released from his bonds, he took counsel with Thomas, the envoy from Tver, and fled from the Latin city of Florence to his own land. Because of the hardships of the journey, he was troubled and cast into great sorrow. Once, when he laid down to rest, he fell into a dream and beheld a venerable elder standing above him. The elder took him by the right hand and said, "Did you receive the blessing of Mark, the Bishop of Ephesus, who follows in the footsteps of the apostles?"

Symeon replied, "Sir, I have indeed seen the wondrous and resolute Mark and received his blessing."

The elder said, "God’s blessing is upon that man, for the vain assembly of the Latins has utterly failed to prevail over him either by offers of wealth or flattery or threats of torture. As you have heard the blessed Mark’s teaching and instruction, proclaim to all the Orthodox wherever you go that, possessing the traditions of the holy apostles and the ordinances of the holy fathers of the Seven Councils and knowing the truth, they should be not deceived by the Latins. Moreover, do not be troubled by the journey’s difficulties, for I will remain with you and shall keep you from harm."

After the venerable elder had said this and much else, the presbyter asked him, "Sir, tell me, who are you, for it seems to me that it was God that sent you to lead us who are in despair out of this strange land."

"I am Sergius, to whom you once prayed and to whose monastery you vowed to come," replied the elder.

After seeing this vision the presbyter took heart and arose, and he told his companion Thomas that which he had seen and heard. Rejoicing, they continued along their way; and soon, by God’s providence and through the prayers of their intercessor, the godly Sergius, they reached the land of Russia unharmed. They told the people of the vision and the help they had received from the saint, proclaiming that which the presbyter had heard, and they related all that had occurred at the Council of Florence.

It is fitting that this account be retold at the present time when sacred piety is mocked and suffers persecution at the hands of the Romans. Seeing our venerable father Sergius standing unshaken like a pillar, even after his repose denouncing the Council of Florence as most iniquitous, the children of the Eastern Church should not be deceived by the vain arguments of the Romans concerning the faith. For our faith, according to the Apostle, is not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

St. Dimitri of Rostov

Γεροντας Παϊσιος -Πώς γίνεται και κυριεύομαι από τα πάθη

- "Γέροντα, πώς γίνεται και κυριεύομαι από τα πάθη;"

- "Ο άνθρωπος, αν δώση δικαιώματα στον πειρασμό, κυριεύεται από τα πάθη. Αυτό που θέλει ο Θεός, που είναι και συμφέρον σου, είναι να πετάξης στα μούρα του διαβόλου όλα τα πάθη. Δηλαδή να στρέψης εναντίον του τον θυμό, το πείσμα κ.λ.π. Ή καλύτερα, πούλησε τα πάθη στο ταγκαλάκι και, με όσα χρήματα πάρης, αγόρασε πέτρες, να έχης και να το πετροβολάς, για να μη σε πλησιάζη! Συνήθως εμείς οι άνθρωποι με τις αφορμές που δίνουμε, είτε με απροσεξίες είτε με υπερήφανους λογισμούς, επιτρέπουμε στον εχθρό να μας κάνει κακό. Ακόμη και έναν λογισμό ή έναν λόγο μπορεί να τα εκμεταλλευθεί το ταγκαλάκι.

Θυμάμαι, ήταν μια οικογένεια πολύ αγαπημένη. Κάποτε άρχισε ο άνδρας και έλεγε στην γυναίκα: "Θα σε χωρίσω".

Και η γυναίκα έλεγε στον άνδρα: "Θα σε χωρίσω". Έτσι το έλεγαν, στ΄αστεία.

Αλλά το εκμεταλλεύθηκε ο πειρασμός και δημιούργησε μια μικρή δυσκολία και ήταν έτοιμοι να χωρίσουν, ούτε τα παιδιά τους σκέφτονταν ούτε τίποτε. Ευτυχώς βρέθηκε ένας Πνευματικός και τους μίλησε. "Γι΄αυτήν την χαζομάρα θα χωρίσετε;" τους είπε. Και έτσι συνήλθαν.

Γεροντας Παϊσιος
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